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Uganda Airlines eyes share of Kenya Airways routes

By Noel Wandera
Wednesday, October 9th, 2019
Uganda Airlines. Photo/Courtesy

The pressure is mounting on Kenya Airways (KQ) as regional carriers eye a slice of her market share with Uganda Airlines acquiring new planes targeting traditionally KQ routes.

Kenya’s western neighbour took delivery of two 72 seater CRJ900 planes from Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, which will be deployed on the Kinshasa, Zanzibar, Lusaka, Asmara, Hargeisa, Djibouti and Addis Ababa routes, the airline said on its Twitter handle.

Dwindling fortunes

KQ, which is currently undergoing lean financial times, plies on three of the routes; Addis Ababa, Djibouti and Zanzibar.

The two deliveries on Monday doubled the size of the fledgling airline’s fleet. The first two Bombardier CRJ900 arrived in April this year, which also marked the official revival of Uganda Airlines that was liquidated in 2001.

The airline expects to receive two long-haul Airbus A330 Neo planes soon, bringing its fleet numbers to six. The first will arrive by the end of the year, while the second will follow a few months later.

The carrier launched commercial flights in August this year with an inaugural flight to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in what Uganda Transport Minister Monica Ntege, said was in tandem with the spirit of the East Africa cooperation.

“We are going to focus on regional routes before expanding to other destinations,” said Ntege. 

The airline will aim to attract 1.4 million Ugandans out of an estimated two million passengers per year who travel through Entebbe International Airport, said carrier’s chief executive Ephraim Bagenda.

With a fleet of six at its disposal, the airline is now primed to widen its route network into Central and Southern Africa, where it will fly into a crowded sky dominated by KQ and Ethiopian Airlines, two airlines with contrasting fortunes.

Whereas state-backed Ethiopian Airlines is eying a stake in South African Airways, KQ is undergoing a lean period, characterised by a half-year loss of Sh8.6 billion. 

The airline also announced a scale back on its frequencies due to a shortage of pilots. 

It has since suspended flights to Libreville (Gabon) and Cotonou (Benin) effective October 14, 2019.

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